Monday, February 20, 2012

Featured Blogger: Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT

Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT is the creator of The Toolbox at with tools for marriage, relationship and emotional health.  A frequent consultant for the media, she has appeared in numerous publications and online news sources including, and Martha Stewart Weddings Magazine.  Learn more about Lisa’s private practice working with individuals and couples in Marin County, CA at

Happy Couples Can Make for a Great Sex Life
By Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT

As much as technique is important in sexual intimacy between committed partners, great sex in a long term relationship is really about something more.  A strong relationship foundation, emotional safety, secure attachment and attunement to one another are crucial ingredients to increase the chances of a satisfying and sexually intimate life together.

Relationship research by Drs. John and Julie Gottman and others have demonstrated that indeed, there are qualities that the more successful relationships tend to share.  Christine Carter, PhD, sociologist and happiness expert also offers “practical prescriptions” for couples seeking happiness together.  If your sex life has been a disappointment for some time there are many ways to ignite some passion into it like sexy date nights, spicy change in your routine, sexual enhancers, etc.  As helpful as these and others can be, I’m going to suggest the most important way you can work towards improved sexual fulfillment together is to take careful stock of the quality of your relationship. 

Happy couples can make for a great sex life.

The better the quality of connection between you and your partner, the more the road towards great sex can be paved.  Assess your own relationship as you read the following research-based “traits of happy couples” to see where you can make improvements as well as noting where you already shine together.

Traits of happy couples:
  • Their relationship is full of positive, pro-social emotions such as gratitude and appreciation.
  • They recognize and respond to each other’s bids for attention.
  • They prioritize intimacy and sex.
  • They are good at using humor to de-escalate conflict.
  • They show interest in each other’s worlds by asking questions.
  • They support each other’s growth and learning of new things.
  • They see conflicts as joint problems to be solved.
  • They accept influence from each other.
  • They can both calm themselves effectively during conflict.
  • They put their individual happiness first, knowing that the happier they are the more they can offer each other and the relationship.
  • They are connected to other happy people as emotions are contagious and happiness is best predicted by social ties.
  • They avoid damaging behaviors such as criticism, contempt, stonewalling and defensiveness.
  • They make relationship repair attempts when things go awry.

Built-up anger and sadness towards one another can become toxic over time.  This underlying emotional discontentment can lead couples to not only avoid each other but sex all together.  Some say that intense emotions can ignite passionate “make-up” sex but you’re better off addressing the underlying lack of security with each other for the long-term health of your relationship. 

Happy couples that have a solid foundation under their “relationship house” have an advantage over distressed couples lacking in emotional safety in that they enter into the sexual part of their relationship with less baggage.  Their inherent openness and communication skills can serve them well in the bedroom.

As a couple, bringing up the happiness quotient is a win-win for all areas of your relationship.


  1. This is a great article! I am a relationship therapist (from Australia - seeing the Gottmans this week - yey!!!) and I am about to complete a Masters in Sexual Health. For all I have learnt regarding technique, managing sexual dysfunstions etc, I still believe the most important factor in a satisfying sex life is the health of the couple relationship. Thankyou for articulating so well what I have felt for a long time. Bernadette Keating, relationshiphealth.

  2. Thank you Bernadette! It's important to remind ourselves of the relevance of the relationship foundation in many things. So much stems from the presence of emotional safety (or lack thereof) in intimate relationships.


  3. Great article Traits of happy couples! Just shared with my twitter and facebook followers. Great featured blogger

  4. Hey there,

    So my question is 'Why does my girlfriend have a low sex drive, and what can I do to help her with it?'

    Background: I'm a 28 year old male and she's 24 years old. We've been together for a little under a year and our sex life has been declining for the last few months. Lately, we will be at a point where a few months ago we would have been ripping each others clothes off and it just doesn't happen. I can sense that she's not in the mood and it just ends there. She's appologized on multiple occasions for never being in the mood. I think she feels bad about it and I don't hound her about it or let her know that it bugs me. I know it's fairly common for a newer couple to have sex nearly everytime that they're together and it's not uncommon for a couples sex life to decline over time. Our frequency has gone from 5 or 6 times a week to roughly once a week. We are both finishing up school and our finals and licensure testing is coming up quick, so I know she's under more stress than she once was. I also think she may have body image issues, even though I do try to make her feel sexy and let her know that I'm very attracted to her. We are a happy couple and we never fight, I am running out of ideas on what to do and how to either come to terms with the current situation or rekindle what we used to have...

    I tried to give you all of the info that I thought may be important, if there is anything else that would be helpful let me know.

    Thank you for even considering reading this and thank you for hopefully helping me out.


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